The answer to this question can be both simple and impossible to explain. As of today, I do not believe that anyone can honestly say that they know exactly what CFIDS is. Of course, there are theories and various opinions, but often times those are debunked as new ones come up. In essence, it appears that no one can say for sure exactly what this illness is all about. You may find it easier to learn about CFIDS by simply talking to someone who lives with it day after day.
On the other hand, there is an official definition set forth by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). I would recommend that you visit their web site for more information in regards to the basic nuts and bolts of this illness. From my own experience and the CDC definition, I'll sum up what this illness entails.
Often referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or more often as Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome(CFIDS), this illness is very complex. It is most often recognized by disabling fatigue that is present for six months or longer. This fatigue is not to be confused with simply being over-worked or normal tiredness that can and does occur in most people. The fatigue mentioned herein is best described as one that cannot be relieved by rest and is often quite disabling. Imagine having the flu twenty four hours a day! This fatiuge cannot be life long and basically must have shown up without reason.
Besides unrelenting fatigue, you must exhibit at least four or more symptoms characteristic of CFIDS. These symptoms must have started about the same time as the fatigue. In other words, if you developed other symptoms long before you experienced the fatigue, you probably wouldn't fit into the case definition.
To illustrate what I mean by other symptoms, I can best do this by giving you an example of what I experience. Keep in mind that not everyone will have the same problems with CFIDS. These can include recurrent sore throats, fever, aches, unusual headaches, joint and muscle pains that do not swell or turn red, swollen or painful lymph nodes, and post exertional malaise that lasts for a day or more. You can also experience what patients call "brain fog", which is simply concentration problems and short term memory difficulty.
If you are experiencing any of the above, or are simply ill at all, I advise you to seek a doctor immediately! Don't use the above to diagnose yourself. Always see a doctor if you feel that you are becoming ill. If you received a diagnosis of CFIDS, then do some research yourself and maybe seek a doctor that has experience in dealing with it.
The last point that I wish to make is the fact
that CFIDS is normally a long term illness. In other words, this illness
is not something that you would normally get over within a few weeks. It
can often be misdiagnosed as mono, as the symptoms can be very similar,
except you just don't seem to get well. Some people can get over this illness
in a few short years, while others may suffer for their entire life.
Next: Is there a test for it?
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